What do those first few moments in your classroom look like?
Do you run a morning meeting? Morning tubs? Morning work? A morning meeting was something I always wanted to do in my first grade classroom. It was the perfect way to start our day with respect for one another, come together as a community, and review some of the skills we learn throughout the year,
I wanted to take a little time today to explain what morning meeting looked like in my first grade classroom. First, I will share that I “collected” my students either outside or in the auditorium each day when the bell rang. They wouldn’t come to our classroom until it was time to start the day.
Once I walked my students into the classroom they had to do the following:
– Put away coats and backpacks
– Pass in folder (when necessary)
– Put chair down (our chairs were stored on top of desks overnight for easy sweeping)
– Meet over on the rug
I give my students about 5 minutes to do all that. For students waiting for their classmates on the rug, I taught them to form a circle and they were allowed to chat about whatever they wanted until everyone was settled. Once I made my way to the rug, they knew morning meeting was about to begin.
Our morning meeting always had 3 parts:
Part 1: The Greeting
This us where we welcome one another as equals in our classroom. We practice eye contact and respectful greetings always being sure to address our classmates’ by their names. I shared 8 of our favorite greetings below with a little explanation of each.
Handshake: we would go around in a circle and look one another in the eye saying, “Good Morning, ___________” with a firm handshake.
High 5/Fist Bump: same as above, but a little more casual! I usually let students choose to give either a high 5 or a fist bump when it is their turn to pass the greeting.
Snowball: each student writes their name on a piece of paper, crumples it up, and puts it in a snowball pile in the middle of our circle. One by one students choose a piece of paper, open it and greet that person with a handshake/high 5/fistbump.
Pass the yarn: using a ball of yarn one person begins and rolls (or passes) the yarn to a classmate across the circle from them and greets that person. Students hold that part of the yarn until a web is created across the circle and every student has been greeted.
Stinky shoes: This is always a classroom favorite! Each student take off one of their sheos and puts it it he middle of the circle. Students then take turns choosing a shoe from the pile and greeting whoever the owner is. This continues until all shoes have been returned to their rightful owners.
Global Greeting: This is another simple greeting where students go around in a circle and say good morning to one another, but before we begin, we practice different global greetings.
Hola (Spanish) / Bonjour (French) / Guten Tag (German) / Ciao (Italian) / Namaste (Hindi) / Salaam (Farsi) / Konnichiwa (Japanese) … and more! At the beginning of the year, I really like to learn about where my students are from and their backgrounds as we share about ourselves and our communities. I am sure to include a greeting from any other languages we may have in our classroom!
Dice Roll: everyone stands up in our circle and I usually start by rolling a big, foam die. I count clockwise around the circle the number that I rolled onthe die and greet that person. Then, I sit down. The student who I greeted will then roll the die and count that many spaces. Students continue until everyone is seated and has been greeted!
The 2-Minute Hello: For this one, all students stand up and spread around the room. I put on a 2-minute timer and students must walk around the room and greet as many people as they can. Since this one is fast-paced, I focus on slowing down when we greet someone new. We stand directly in front of them, make eye contact, shake their hand and say their full name when we say good morning!
After we greet one another, we move onto the next step in our morning meeting,
Part 2: The Morning Message
Everyone turns their attention to our interactive morning message where we talk about what our day will look like and I can go over any changes to our schedule. Here are a few examples of what our morning messages looked like in my classroom:
After years of writing morning messages, I really wish I had taken pictures of more of them – but they all had the same layout. I would say good morning and tell the students a little about the day. Generally, there were some letters missing so students could fill them in (digraphs, long vowels, day of the week, etc.) and I would often ask a question that we would stop and discuss for a moment or two. At the bottom of each morning message would be a skill review based on what we were learning. It was s great way to check in, get our minds ready for learning, and spiral some of the learning we’ve done all year!
When I had a Smartboard in Las Vegas – I would project my morning messages on it and students loved getting to write on the board!
Part 3: Activity or Share
Lastly, we would all get our chance to particpate in a sharing or community activity! These activities allowed us to practice active listening, work together as a team, and/or practice some skills review. Every Monday we would share. This was a time for students to tell us about their weekend, if they wanted to. Only one person would share at a time and they would hold our class pointer. That signified it was their turn to talk and everyone else practiced listening with the eyes, ears, and heart. Every 3-5 students I would allow for a question or comment from the group where students would ask the speaker a question to continue to conversation or make a comment (usually it was a compliment or a connection).
When it wasn’t a share day, we would play a class game! Most of the time it was just a fun team-building game like any of the following:
Mr. Magoo: Students get paired up and one of them is Mr. Magoo, a blind man who needed to be driven around. The other partner stands behind Mr. Magoo with their hands lightly on their shoulders. Only using whispers and light touches on the shoulder, students needed to guide Mr. Magoo around the classroom for 1 minute without bumping into anything. If students bumped into another classmate or something in the room, they would sit out. After a minute, students switch and the other partner becomes Mr. Magoo!
Telephone: One student starts with a “funny phrase” (ex: the purple hippo jumped on a trampoline!) and whispers it in the ear of their neighbor. The phrase gets whispered all the way around the circle until it reaches the person who started it. We see if we can pass it correctly!
Caught Red-Handed: One student stands in the middle of the circle with their eyes closed. Someone on the outside circle starts by passing a small ball around the circle behind their backs. The student in the middle opens their eyes and tries to “catch” who has the ball. Students try to be sneaky and pass it while the student in the middle isn’t looking!
Mirror Image: students pair up and face one another. They observe their partner closely and while one partner makes slow movements, the other tries to be their mirror image.
You can also watch 3 of my favorite games below:
Other times we played some skills review games like the following:
Buzz: students stand in a circle and the teacher chooses certain numbers that you cannot say, but instead you must say BUZZ. For example, multiples of 10. So each student would go around counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, BUZZ! After a student says Buzz at the correct time, the student immediately following must sit. If a student accidentally says “10” or says the wrong number while counting, they must sit down. Students continue, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, BUZZ! until all students are sitting and there is only one winner. Throughout the year we skip count by 2s and 5s, and I make the BUZZ rule a little more difficult. I like to keep the 120 chart available at the beginning of the year for students to reference.
Sparkle: similar to BUZZ, students stand in a circle and are given words to spell (sight words, spelling words, words with specific phonics patterns (-at words) etc.) Students only say one letter at a time and if a student says the incorrect letter, they sit down. Once the word is spelled correctly, the next student says SPARKLE! and the student immediately following sits down.
Mix-n-Match: this game is played with pre-made cards where students basically mix around the classroom and try to find their match silently. I do this with simple addition facts (one student would have 3+3 and the other would have 6), phonics patterns we are working on (silent e: one student has the word “cake” another has a picture of a cake) and many other concepts. Once all students have correctly found their matches they stand next to eachother on the mat. Then, we check them all, collect the cards and redistribute! We usually shuffle and repeat about 3 times!
*I also like to use our morning meeting time to address and big classroom issues that may arise throughout the year: treating one another with respect, feuds with friends, recess issues, etc. We use this time to come together and brainstorm solutions.*
These are just some of the many games and activities we play in the mornings, but I find that this special time is our favorite part of each day! It is a time to come together, start each day fresh and new, and grow as a community.
If you’re wanting to learn more about Morning Meeting, these are my go-to books for the structure and for game/activity ideas: (affiliate links below)